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The Factors That Airlines Consider When Retiring Aircraft

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We’ve seen significant transitions across global fleets over the last few years. Social events and market shifts have shaken up airline holdings, causing many aircraft to be phased out. You probably know at least a few factors, but in today’s video, let’s take a look at what the driving forces are behind these retirements.

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Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information.

Keywords: aircraft replacement,aircraft retirement,avgeek,aviation,aviation industry,phase out,scrapping

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33 Comments

  1. Don't forget marketing! Like anything new, people prefer new aircraft. It gives them a good impression and confidence about the company and they will come back. Whereas old aircraft with worn out seats, jaded interiors and exteriors gives the opposite impression. Word gets around.

  2. Surprisingly capital depreciation isn't mentioned. If an aircraft is scrapped young, years before it is fully depreciated, the owner will take a big financial loss. This negates the operating cost savings from replacing it with a new aircraft.

  3. I kinda figured fuel costs to be a factor in retiring aircraft. I thought, however, it was more like cars and trucks: when there's no spare parts left, then they have to be taken out of service.

  4. It takes a pretty significant technological leap to make it worthwhile to dump an old aircraft for a new design just based on better economics with the newer design. Airbus, Boeing, and their engine suppliers definitely deserve some credit for constantly making progress in efficiency for the last few decades and I'm glad competitive pressure has forced them to innovate.
    I am also optimistic that fossil-fuel-free aviation is attainable and I do think that's a change that will prompt lots of airlines to replace less economical airplanes with more economical ones.

  5. Just because an aircraft is retired, does not mean it has been retired. Retired aircraft from North America and Europe often end up in Sub Sahara Africa South East Asia and India.
    Secondly, there are 28% more people flying in first world countries (in 2019) than there were in 1999. They say that by 2050, the number of people who fly will be 225% of the number that flew in 2000. Most of that growth will come those areas that get secondhand aircraft (plus China).
    Lastly, fuel driven planes will be around for the next 25 years. The planes that are expected to run on batteries by 2035 will take flights of less than 2 hours with 16-24 people. A plane testbed from original draft to first flight is running 8-10 years, and certification comes 3-4 years later. The plane is designed around propulsion and weight distribution, and batteries are already too heavy for even an CRJ sized plane, so I figure we are 15-20 years from a 90 passenger electric plane to be certified.

  6. When aircraft become economically enviable to run by airlines, they become economically viable to run by cargo carriers

  7. The Fokker airplanes are indestructible and will not age at all, they have an expected lifetime of over a 1000 years!

  8. From the 707 to the 777 basic airframes changed very little. Lots of scrap metal and parts which could be re-used.

    As mentioned in the video, few airframes reached the end of their actual life, which in the case of a metal tube is limited by fatigue caused by repeated pressure changes, as much, if not more than the number of hours flown or the physical age etc.

    A metal aircraft has more value in it than the cost of disposal – but what about a composite one? Could the costs of disposal actually extend the economic viability of the airframe?

    If composite fuselages are significantly less affected by pressure changes, will it become the norm for aircraft to be re-engined at least once during a much longer operational life?

    Will parts which were previously considered good for the life of the plane join the list of those with a replacement cycle if an increase in weight required to extend the life of those components to the same as that of the aircraft simply cannot be accommodated? Will this require design changes to facilitate these additional replacements?

  9. How long does an airline need to fly a new plane before the cost savings of flying that plane instead of the older retired plane cover the cost of actually acquiring that plane? (not just the purchase price but all the other costs that come with adding a new plane to the fleet)

  10. FedEx would never have retired their 727 and the md11/dc10 if it was not for the fuel burn. Those airframes were and still are the best for cargo.. its takes about 10 years of refinement to get the most out a series.. the design take about 40 years.. now with today large scale use of carbon composite it will be cycles before the age. As good as composite are… it not as flexible for repairs as alloyes.. so retirement will come early then expected.

  11. It's true a lot of airlines lease planes ,big money to operate, why own it ! squeeze the most then retirement, thanks.

  12. Despite the economic downturn, I'm so happy 😊,I have been earning €57,000 returns from my €8,000 investment every 16 days.

  13. This wasn't that informative. A lot of factors go in the decisions that were not touched on. Fuel burn is an obvious one but there are lot of other factors.

  14. It makes me smile that the reason given for a premature aircraft type retirement is fuel saving but the reality is that in will be decades before those savings can offset the cost of a new aircraft especially if fuel cost significantly drop again.

  15. Analysis reveals that aircraft retirements is driven by aircraft retirements which in turn leads to aircraft retirements. P.s. aircraft retirements

  16. Perhaps an engineer could chime in as to why they don't just slap on some new more efficient engines onto the old aircraft?

  17. With the coming of zero emissions a 20+ year lifespan maybe an unreasonable. Wondering what the airline’s current calculation are for the depreciating value of a new aircraft?

  18. I think a lot has to do with whether an airline owns or leases an aircraft. Fuel prices don't sting as bad when you have equity in the aircraft itself.

  19. There seems to be no room for limited heritage aircraft operations with major airlines. Unlike other transport modes eg railways where there is a healthy tourism market around heritage rollingstock.

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